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Olympic Games 2012: Security

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when she (a) was first notified of and (b) approved the deployment of Chinese security personnel to accompany the Olympic torch procession on 6 April; (200594)

(2) what assessment she has made of the appropriateness of the actions taken by Chinese security personnel in preventing expressions of public protest interfering with the Olympic torch procession on 6 April;

(3) when the Metropolitan police were notified that Chinese security personnel would be deployed in central London to accompany the Olympic torch on 6 April;

(4) what her policy is on the use of physical restraint by foreign security personnel against UK citizens during processions in public places, with particular reference to the Olympic torch procession on 6 April;

(5) how many Chinese security personnel accompanied the Olympic torch on 6 April.

The Chinese torch attendants were employed by the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic games (BOCOG). Every torch relay has torch attendants from the Olympic organising committee responsible for the flame after it has been handed over to the host city. These attendants are responsible for lighting and extinguishing the torches and accompanying and guarding the flame. They have no policing role and the Home Office accordingly had no role in approving their deployment.

20 Chinese torch attendants accompanied the flame. Their responsibilities were as described in the “Beijing Olympic Torch Relay Community Planning Guide” and the contract between BOCOG and the Greater London authority and the British Olympic authority in the document “Agreement—Olympic Torch Relay Services” dated 12 October 2007. The Chinese team did not have law enforcement authority, and, could “only protect the flame and the torch-bearer by placing themselves between the offender and the torch bearer.”

The Metropolitan police service was responsible for policing the event, including protests associated with it and for dealing with any criminal offences committed.

The Home Office has not been made aware of any specific allegations of Chinese torch attendants preventing expressions of public protest.

Anyone who believes that a criminal offence has been committed should report it to the police in the usual way.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons Chinese security personnel accompanied the Olympic torch during its London relay on 6 April; and if she will make a statement. (201375)

Every torch relay has torch attendants from the Olympic organising committee responsible for the flame after it has been handed over to the host city. The Chinese torch attendants were responsible for lighting and extinguishing the torches and accompanying and guarding the flame. The Metropolitan Police Service was responsible for the safety, security and safe passage of the torchbearer and torch as it travelled through London. The Chinese torch attendants had no policing role or executive power in London.